For some, the above Homer Simpson quote sums up the volunteer experience. But not for me. At the risk of becoming incredibly wanky over the next few paragraphs, I am going to tell you what I have done so far this week and why it has been brilliant.
A blow by blow account of what I've been doing - shifting bags, barbequeing, helping people find things and most of all 'etcetera' - would be shitbollock boring. So instead I will tell you about the good bits.
For a start I have met and talked to at least a hundred new people. And it's only Tuesday. Having a badge that says 'Sup?' seems to be a great way of breaking the ice, I advise you all to get one. But along with the scores of amiable acquaintances who will now accost me in Medicine, Stumble and the Union with the word 'Sup?', I have also met a number of people with whom the rapport goes deeper, and who I am sure will become firm and perhaps life long friends.
I'm only half way through the week, but already I feel more at home at Holloway than I ever have before. I've started keeping a secret bag of clothes and toiletries on campus so I hardly even have to leave. No I'm not telling you where it is, but suffice to say I once actually won at hide and seek while I was hiding. Yes, they had to give up. I hid that well.
I am thinking of setting up a tent in the quad to save on rent. Perhaps I could become a quasi-gypsy, setting up my tent all around Egham and, when I finnally got evicted after thirty days, moving my stuff just down the road.
I was never a fresher myself - well, not properly. During my first year I still lived at the flat. Plus, I was 20, with a kid, so the "wow, we are finally free!" vibe of my first year was kind of lost on me. And perhaps it says something that, even though this year I could have celebrated my new found independence with a fresher's week full of hedonism and frivolity, I have actively sought out responsibility like some kind of fucking masochist. Last night I was at Medicine, half way through getting pissed, when I heard there was a bit of a ruckus at the union. There was no expectation or obligation for me to go and help - I'd clocked off at six after a nine hour day - but I wanted to be there, I wanted to help, and even when I found the situation to be under control, I stayed and helped out anyway. I stayed for over an hour, and by the time I returned my pitcher had gone missing. But even this, and the fact I couldn't actually get into the Union, did not dampen my spirits (well, they did, but only for ten minutes or so).
All this is beginning to sound suspiciously like bragging. And I suppose it is, a bit. But I prefer to think of it as advertising. Helping people out this week has actually gotten me high. This high in't quite up there with the first time you drop a pill, but I'd sure as hell no trade it for ten grams of coke. Or, if I did, I'd sell those ten grams and give the money to charity. Fuck yeah!